While Social Security Administration data estimate that an American woman now in her 40s is likely to live until her early 80s (and that a man the same age will live to his late 70s), doctors who specialize in the science of longevity say there are several basic health-history and lifestyle factors that can predict whether you’ll live even longer.
Many of our assumptions about how to last forever are just plain false, says Howard Friedman, PhD, co-author of the new book The Longevity Project. Friedman and his colleagues analyzed the data from an 80-year-long study of people’s lives and habits from age 12 until they died, uncovering some surprising info about who ends up old enough to get a shout-out from Willard Scott.
"Hard work is not at all a health problem," Friedman says. "In fact, the lackadaisical, less-successful folks were at the greatest risk of dying younger." This is in keeping with findings that many folks don’t do well after retirement, especially if their jobs helped them feel useful and appreciated. The problem is when your work makes you feel like you have no control—that’s not going to help you long-term.
Not necessarily. "If anything, happiness may be the result of good health rather than the cause," Friedman says. "People who get their happiness from doing worthwhile things and building good relationships—those lead to both happiness and health," he says. Chasing momentary thrills, on the other hand, won’t do anything for your overall well-being.